New Alert Procedure
  (effective 3/1/2002)

The new Alert procedure includes a number of definitions whose purpose is to clarify important concepts and create a standard terminology.

It also uses the admittedly "fuzzy" terminology of "highly unusual and unexpected" as the best practical solution to simplifying the Alert Procedure. The "highly unusual and unexpected" should be determined in light of historical usage rather than local geographical usage. To ensure full disclosure, however, at the end of the auction and before the opening lead declarers are encouraged to volunteer to explain the auction (including available inferences).

Definition of expected length for natural calls for the Alert Procedure are:

  • Suit bids:
    • 1. 3+ in a minor and 4+ in a major for opening bids, rebids and responses.
    • 2. 4+ for an overcall at the one level, 5+ for higher levels.
    • 3. 5+ for a weak two-bid.
    • 4. 6+ for a weak three-bid.
  • Notrump openings and overcalls: A notrump opening or overcall, if not unbalanced (generally, no singleton or void and only one or two doubletons), is considered natural.

Definitions:

  • Alert: A manner specified by the sponsoring organization by which opponents are notified of your pair's special agreements. These may be given aloud, in writing and/or by using an Alert card or strip.
  • Convention: A bid which, by partnership agreement, conveys a meaning not necessarily related to the denomination named or, in the case of a pass, double or redouble, the last denomination named. In addition, a pass which promises more than a specified amount of strength, or artificially promises or denies values other than in the last suit named.
  • Transfer: A bid of a suit to show another specific suit (e.g., a diamond bid showing hearts).
  • Cue-bid: A bid in a suit which an opponent has either bid naturally or in which he has shown four or more cards.
  • Control-bid: A bid, not intended as a place to play, which denotes a control (usually first or second round). The control need not be in the denomination named. These bids are usually used to investigate slam.
  • Doubles (in increasing order of penalty orientation):
    • Takeout: Partner is requested to bid.
    • Competitive: Shows a desire to compete further; partner normally bids.
    • Optional: Shows extra high-card values; offers partner a choice between bidding or passing.
    • Penalty-oriented: Partner normally passes but occasionally bids..
    • Penalty: Partner is requested to pass.
  • Other useful definitions:
    • Treatment: A natural call which, by partnership agreement, carries a specific message about the suit bid or the general strength or shape of the hand.
    • Relay: A bid which does not guarantee any specific suit; partner is requested to make the next-step bid (usually) or make another descriptive bid if appropriate (e.g., a diamond bid which usually shows hearts but may not have hearts in some cases).
    • Puppet: A bid which requires partner to make a specific bid (e.g., a 2NT bid which requires partner to bid 3).

    Alerts: Many previously Alertable calls no longer require an Alert. However, when in doubt Alert (there is no penalty for Alerting unnecessarily but there may be one for failing to Alert when one is required).

    Pre-Alerts (Alerts before hands are removed from the first board of a round or match segment):

    • 1. Two-system methods (e.g., strong club when equal or favorable vulnerability; a natural two-over-one when not).
    • 2. Systems based on very light openings or other highly aggressive methods or preempts.
    • 3. Systems which may be unfamiliar to opponents, such as canapˇ.
    • 4. SuperChart and Mid-Chart methods.
    • 5. Leading low from a doubleton.

    Delayed Alerts: Beginning with and including opener's second call, an Alertable bid above the level of 3NT bid is a delayed Alert. Passes, Doubles and Redoubles requiring an Alert must always be Alerted immediately.

    A Delayed Alert is made as follows:

    • Declaring side: The partner or the person making the Alertable call Alerts after the auction is completed and prior to the opening lead.
    • Defending side: The partner of the player making the Alertable call Alerts after the opening lead is made face-down and before the dummy is tabled.

    Comparison: New Alert Procedure (2002) vs the Old Procedure

    New Alert Procedure

    • I. Natural Bids No natural calls are Alertable except for:
      • a. Those which show an unexpected feature that is unrelated to the denomination named.
      • b. Those which are played by most players as forcing (or non-forcing) or as showing a particular range or strength, but which you play differently.
      • c. Direct cue-bids which are played as natural (e.g., 1-2=diamonds).
    • II. Conventional Bids All conventional calls are immediately Alertable, except for:
      • a. Those which require an Announcement, a Delayed Alert, or are specifically exempted herein.
      • b. Stayman.
      • c. Gerber, Blackwood, their variations, and the expected responses thereto.
      • d. Unusual Notrump.
      • e. A conventional 2NT response to an opening two-level suit bid.
      • f. Cue-bids, regardless of their meaning (but see Ic).
      • g. Opening strong artificial 2 and a waiting or negative 2 response thereto.
    • III. Doubles, Redoubles and Passes
      • a. No double requires an Alert except those with highly unusual or unexpected meanings.
      • b. No redouble requires an Alert except those with highly unusual or unexpected meanings.
      • c. No pass requires an Alert except those with highly unusual or unexpected meanings.
    • IV. Announcements - The following bids require an Announcement:
      • a. Transfers (diamonds to hearts or hearts to spades) at any level by the partner of a notrump opener, overcaller or after opener's natural NT rebid (say "Transfer").
      • b. A forcing or semi-forcing 1NT response to a one-of-a-major opening (say "Forcing" or "Semi-forcing," respectively.
      • c. All opening 1NT ranges (state the range).
      • d. Non-forcing opening bids of 1 or 1 which may be fewer than three cards (say "May be short").
    • V. Delayed Alerts - Beginning with and including opener's second call, Alertable bids above 3NT require a Delayed Alert. (Note: Alertable passes, doubles and redoubles require immediate, not Delayed, Alerts.)
    • VI. Calls with Highly Unusual or Unexpected Meanings - Any call which conveys a highly unusual message, either by partnership agreement or past experience, of which the opponents are likely to be unaware, requires an Alert irrespective of items I through V above.

    Changes from Old Alert Procedure

    • I. Natural Bids The following will no longer require an Alert:
      • Jump raises, except those played as weak in non-competitive auctions (e.g., 1-P-3=weak);
      • all natural three-level responses to notrump openings or overcalls, whether a jump or not; natural but limited openings (e.g., Precision 1 and 1);
      • 1NT responses and rebids showing a balanced hand, even if a four-card major may be bypassed;
      • invitational or better natural 2NT response to an opening bid of one in a suit.
    • II. Conventional Bids
      • Cue-bids will no longer require an Alert except for a direct cue-bid of an opening natural bid which is played as natural (e.g., 1-2=diamonds). Note: 1 (artificial) - 2 = natural is not Alertable.
    • III. Doubles, Redoubles and Passes Doubles, redoubles and passes will no longer require an Alert except for those with highly unusual or unexpected meanings (e.g., 1-Dbl=penalty; 1-1-Dbl=penalty; 1-P-4-Dbl=lead clubs; 1NT-Dbl-Rdbl=asks opener to bid 2; 1-Dbl-Rdbl-P=penalty). Note: forcing passes are not Alertable.
    • IV. Announcements All opening 1NT ranges now are announced. Non-forcing opening bids of 1 or 1 which may be fewer than three cards now are announced (say "May be short"). Transfers after opener's natural NT rebid.
    • V. Delayed Alerts No changes.
    • VI. Calls with Highly Unusual or Unexpected Meanings No changes. This category codifies that Alerts are required for any unusual or unexpected method, including legal home-made methods.

    New Alert Procedure (2002) with Examples - Below is the new Alert procedure in summary form, including some typical examples illustrating each principle. In the procedure's final form the examples will appear in a separate table and expanded to a more extensive set.

    • I. Natural Bids No natural bids are Alertable except for:
    • a. Those which show an unexpected feature that is unrelated to the denomination named (e.g., a weak 2 opening showing hearts and another suit; 1-P-3=raise promising a singleton somewhere).
    • b. Those which are played by most players as forcing (or non-forcing) or as showing a particular range or strength, but which you play differently (e.g., any of the following by an unpassed hand: 1-P-1 or 1-P-2=non-forcing; 1-P-1NT=game forcing; 1-P-3=weak; 1-P-2=forcing; 2-P-2NT=natural and non-forcing; 1-3 or 1-2=intermediate or strong; 1-1=could be fewer than 6 HCP [also requires a pre-Alert]; 1-P-2=non-forcing, weak or invitational; 1-P-1-1NT=takeout; 1-1NT=12-15; 1-1NT-P-2 or 1NT-P-2=natural;1=8+ HCP [also requires a pre-Alert]; 2=intermediate or strong; 2=weak or intermediate; 1-P-1-P; 1NT=strong). NOTE: Opening suit bids somewhere in the range of 10-21+ (such as Precision natural one-level opening bids) do not require an Alert.
    • c. Direct cue-bids of natural opening bids which are played as natural (e.g., 1-2=diamonds).
  • II. Conventional Bids All conventional bids are Alertable, except for:
    • a. Those which require an Announcement, a Delayed Alert, or are specifically exempted herein.
    • b. Stayman (a 2 or 3 bid by the partner of a notrump opener or overcaller asking for a four-card major).
    • c. Gerber (4 either immediately or delayed over partner's notrump asking for aces), Blackwood (4NT), their variations (e.g., KCB, RKCB, 1430, etc.), and expected responses thereto. (Note: Non-4NT ace-asking bids such as Kickback, those below 3NT, opening ace-asking bids, and any of their responses require either an Alert or Delayed Alert.)
    • d. Unusual Notrump (e.g., a 2NT jump overcall [e.g., 1x-2NT=minors or 1x-2NT=lower two unbid suits] or any four-level or higher notrump bid that is unusual; P-1-P-1; 1NT=takeout). (Note: A natural jump to 2NT in balancing seat [e.g., 1-P-P-2NT=strong, balanced] does not require an Alert.)
    • e. A conventional 2NT response to an opening two-level suit bid (e.g., asks for a feature; Ogust).
    • f. Cue-bids, regardless of their meaning (but see Ic).
    • g. Opening strong artificial 2 and a waiting or negative 2 response thereto.
  • III. Doubles, Redoubles and Passes
    • a. No double requires an Alert if it is for takeout, for penalty, shows general values, or requests partner's input (e.g., optional, do-the-right-thing, co-operative, action, etc.). Doubles with highly unusual or unexpected meanings (e.g., 1-Dbl=penalty; 1-1-Dbl=penalty; "don't-lead-my-suit" doubles; 1-P-4-Dbl=lead clubs; 1-P-1- 2-Dbl =support) require an Alert.
    • b. No redouble requires an Alert if it is for penalties, shows general values, or shows or denies a control in the suit redoubled. Redoubles with highly unusual or unexpected meanings (e.g., 1NT-Dbl-Rdbl=asks opener to bid his better minor, or forces him to rebid 2; 1-Dbl-Rdbl=SOS; 1-P-1- Dbl-Rdbl =support) require an Alert.
    • c. No pass requires an Alert if it indicates weakness, shows no desire to bid, or indicates that no suitably descriptive call is available. Passes with highly unusual or unexpected meanings such as those which show values or a specific feature (e.g., 1-Dbl-Rdbl-P=penalty; 2 [strong, art.]-2-P=values; 1-2-P=forcing) require an Alert.
    • d. No forcing pass requires an Alert.
  • IV. Announcements The following bids require an Announcement:
    • a. Transfers (diamonds to hearts or hearts to spades) at any level by the partner of a notrump opener, overcaller or after opener's natural NT rebid (say "Transfer").
    • b. A forcing or semi-forcing 1NT response to a one-of-a-major opening (say "Forcing" or "Semi-forcing" as appropriate).
    • c. All opening 1NT ranges (state the range, e.g., say "12-14").
    • d. Non-forcing opening bids of 1 or 1 which may be fewer than three cards (say "May be short"). Note: A conventional 1 such as Precision is Alertable.
  • V. Delayed Alerts - Beginning with and including opener's second call, Alertable bids above 3NT require a Delayed Alert. (Note: Alertable passes, doubles and redoubles require immediate, not Delayed, Alerts.)
  • VI. Calls with Highly Unusual or Unexpected Meanings - Any call which conveys a highly unusual message, either by partnership agreement or past experience, of which the opponents are likely to be unaware, requires an Alert irrespective of items I through V above.
From the ACBL website [ http://www.acbl.org ]
Return to: News Page |
Go to: D10Home Page  | Upcoming Tournaments